# What will man become?

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Sayonara

I understand your point. I just don't agree with it. The history of mineral exploitation has always followed the general rule that rich ores are first exploited, and then poorer ores. As time passes, poorer and poorer ores are resorted to.

Clearly then you don't understand my position.

I am making the argument that our technology relies on, and will in the future increasingly rely on, a very wide spectrum of elements and compounds, many of which are in such short supply that they will become problematic to source despite advances in extraction technology. I have already given examples of rare precious and transition metals which you chose to ignore.

The argument that such materials can be substituted is fallacious and seems to entirely disregard fundamentals of chemistry, for example the source of chemical properties.

I don't have a problem with the idea that some extraction and refining techniques will improve dramatically. Not at all! In fact I agree, despite the fact that you simply state this as a given without even a passing reference to any possible chemical processes which we aren't currently exploiting. However this is not only entirely beside my point, it supports it. If demand for a material is so great that we have to develop new technologies to source it, and possibly even cross the economy break-even point in order to do so, then all this shows is that accessible stocks of that material must be running out at that time.

That is not so problematic if you assume that something like copper is being extracted from seawater, because there is quite a lot of it as you pointed out. A finite amount, to be sure, but lots and lots of finite. However in the case of something like platinum, which occurs in the crust in a proportion of about 3 parts per trillion (1012), it certainly is a problem.

You can disagree all you want, but the basic summary of your counter-argument so far seems to be that plentiful titanium can be substituted for lead and therefore we will never run out of any vital materials, which is hardly an internally-consistent or rationally deduced position.

You only have to look to your previous post to see the argument from incredulity:

Ok, call me a shameless optimist, but I cannot see that improving technology will result in serious shortages when the elements are so abundant.

Again, desperate measures to extract denote a desperate shortage of the resource. And how does your optimism apply to rare materials? Well, not at all. That's how.

You started off by saying:

This question throws us firmly into the realm of speculation, and there are no right or wrong answers. However, I enjoy speculation too.

This is an approach you have taken in other threads, and it is not strictly true. As you did in those other threads you have strayed into the area of the speculation where the answers are still wrong.

In the same post you talk about humanity spreading to the stars in a large number of populations. How do you think resource splits will be managed? I'd love to hear how the planet's stocks of tellurium - fairly crucial to modern and emerging space technologies - will be divvied up between the fleet and those societies remaining on the Earth. Of course if spacemen of the future will be using phase change memory and solar panels and IRs/compound semiconducters based on lead or copper or maybe wood, there will be less of a concern, but somehow I think that is unlikely.

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To Sayonara

In our previous posts, I was discussing your earlier example of lead and copper, and other comparable products.

I agree that Platinum and Tellurium are somewhat different. Substitution will happen, in spite of your pessimism about that, but to what extent, I am not prepared to predict. We will probably continue to need some of each.

There is about 50 billion tonnes of Platinum in the Earth's crust (and only about 50,000 tonnes in the seas), but in the crust, it is not evenly distributed. It is found in much higher concentration associated with ultramafic materials in igneous rocks. Even in those deposits, it is still at low concentration, except for a few richer ores, which are in the process of being exploited.

Extraction of Platinum from poorer ores is definitely a possibility. However, that is a development not yet close to fruition, and I am not prepared to make predictions.

One source for possible optimism is the new technology for extracting microcrystalline materials. Currently, the research here is on gold, which is present in certain hydrothermal areas in microcrystalline form, widely dispersed, but in relatively very large amounts. Once it can be extracted, the amount available will increase and the price will drop.

Platinum also appears to exist in this form, and alongside the gold. If so, the amount available may be more than we realise. I admit that this is very speculative at this stage.

Another technology that is being developed, though more for gold at present, is the use of bio-concentrators. For example : genetically modified plants able to grow in the tailings of gold mines, and which concentrate the gold in their leaves.

There are some biologists who believe that certain deep dwelling bacteria and archaeans, many kilometres below the Earth's surface, may act to concentrate Platinum, and other materials. This remains to be proven. If so, there will be genetic material that can be harvested and used to modify plants to act as bio-concentrators.

Another development under way is from Iceland, where researchers are experimenting with deep drilling to obtain access to ultra-high temperature and ultra-high pressure water. This water will be used mainly as a source of energy, but it is also laden with minerals. The researchers plan to experiment with gradual cooling of the water to separately deposit the various minerals that are dissolved.

I admit that these developments are very uncertain right now. Platinum may become more available and cheaper as the result of current technological developments. or those developments may come to nothing, and Platinum will become less common and more expensive. Time will tell.

If Platinum remains rare and expensive, humanity will have to learn to live without it, and find other ways of achieving similar ends. Ditto for Tellurium. I doubt that such a shortage will slow human progress too much. People are just too damn clever at finding ways to achieve desired goals.

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In our previous posts, I was discussing your earlier example of lead and copper, and other comparable products.

At this point I feel I should apologise for broaching my thoughts with such commonplace elements, however I should point out that (a) these elements are still finite, and (b) the expenditure of extraction will eventually prohibit that extraction no matter the magnitude of need.

I agree that Platinum and Tellurium are somewhat different. Substitution will happen, in spite of your pessimism about that, but to what extent, I am not prepared to predict.

It seems to me that you are not prepared to predict this because you are either making claims which rely on very specific chemistry without proposing any chemical basis, or suggesting that man's future will rely heavily on alchemy.

In the rest of your post you have again re-stated the position that extraction techniques will diversify and/or improve. I do not dispute this, and I applaud both your research into the topic and your optimism for man's future. But as I have stated and explained it is not a counter-argument to my point. When we need to turn to progressively more extreme methods to obtain resources, we can be assured that demand is outstripping supply and that expense is skyrocketing (pun not intentional).

I would like to be more optimistic about mankind spreading across the galaxy, but I am not prepared to ignore reality in favour of "insert magical step here" thinking. Needless to say, I should not have to point out that predicting possible problems and being pessimistic are not the same thing.

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I think for things such as copper and a few other metal elements, it may eventually be easier to replace the current applications of these metals with different materials and claim the copper that way, for instance using plastic pipes in houses instead of copper ones.

as for Man, I think a Caste system is likely,a bit like the Minbari with their Religious, Warrior and Worker castes.

although its unlikely well have those particular castes, but a Worker caste would certainly be a requirement if only to maintain the infrastructure for the other castes.

we have a Similar system in place today, with the Working class, Upper class, Middle class etc... but over time the differences would become more pronounced and have Physical differences between them.

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A private message for Sayonara, because he rather unfairly criticised my 'lack' of ability to use logic on another thread, and then closed the thread before I could defend myself.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14647?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=dn14647

Everyone else, please ignore, and my apologies for posting something so off thread, but I was left previously feeling very hurt and very angry.

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This isn't a private message at all, is it Lance? We have a system for private messages, which is called the Private Message system.

No, this was posted with the intention of it being viewed by as many people as possible.

I do not doubt your ability to use logic. What concerns me - and rest assured that I am not alone in experiencing this concern - is your willingness to abuse or disregard logic in lieu of an enthusiastic pursuit of your areas of interest.

You consistently denied the point being raised in that thread; that handgun suicides having a higher success rate does not mean that a lack of handgun availability will significantly impact suicide rates. Miller makes the same denial in his paper. How does he back it up? By calling the opposite claim "invalid". I can see why his approach appeals to you.

A quarter of the NS article you cite is given over to the only necessary counter-argument:

Karen Norberg of the US National Bureau of Economics Research in St Louis, Missouri, worries that the strong emotions surrounding this issue may be distorting the evidence.

"These studies all show a strong correlation, but they do not prove causation," says Norberg. She says that other differences between gun owners and non-gun owners unrelated to firearms may explain the differences in suicide rates.

You have been here long enough to know the rules inside-out. Further attempts to personalise this issue or take the thread off topic will be dealt with appropriately.

Edited by Sayonara³
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Short summary - we are not likely to run out. The worst will be an increase in price.

Actually you missed the main point of this whole thing. Yes, you are "theoretically" correct in that a race of super beings that had no regard for the existence of the surface of a planet could extract every last useful atom from the surface of a planets, but it would completely destroy the surface of the planet (and whatever was living on it too).

Lets take your example of Lithium. Yes, there is lithium in sea water and they can extract it from it. But to get a significant amount of it you would have to filter a significant amount of sea water.

If you want it in a reasonable time (a few decades say), then the flow rate of that water would have a massive impact in the living organisms of the ocean. Not only that, the flow rate of that water would equal or exceed the flow rate of the ocean currents. this would then have an impact on ocean currents and then have knock on effects on the global climate.

Of course, if you didn't actually care about these, then you could do something like this, but not only do we need these resource, we also need to live on this planet too.

No, your ideas, although theoretical possible, are completely implausible if we want to actually live on this planet too.

Even with current mining technologies we are making huge changes to entire ecosystems around these mines. Some places around mines are so polluted with he run off (even just the stuff that is not the ore that is needed, not even the actually chemicals used in the extraction processes) that no humans can safely live there.

What you are proposing is to do this to the entire surface of the Earth.

I happen to believe that, because technology continues to get more potent, the long term trend will continue, and we will not run out of resources.

In other threads you have argued against basing future situations on unknown technologies. Lets apply this here too.

We don't know what future technologies will exist. We don't know that there are going to be alternatives to the materials we currently use in our technologies. So according to your own criteria we can not just hope that we will invent a solution.

If we base the future off current technologies and technologies being developed now, then we will reach a crisis point where the demand for materials outstrips supply.

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Edtharan

You may be reading into my earlier posts some things I did not mean to say. If I calculate a total of (say) a trillion tonnes of an element in the Earth's crust, I am not suggesting that anyone will mine the entire Earth's crust to get that trillion tonnes. The number is there to give an upper limit to the amount potentially available.

Of course no one is going to mine the entire crust. If the number is a trillion tonnes, then there may be a total of one part in 100,000 mined over the next 10,000 years. Definitely not the same as total exploitation. Even that is 10 million tonnes, which is hardly inconsiderable.

Nor will we be diving into mass mining procedures which will destroy entire ecosystems in the near future. Developments will be slow, and will evolve into new technologies that will permit extra extraction of essential materials. The current trend is towards ever more careful methods with a view to conserving the natural environment, and this trend will probably continue.

The main point of my last posts on this topic have been in response to the suggestion that humankind will run out of essential elements, such as copper or lead. I merely pointed out that these materials are not in limited supply. The only limiting factor is the degree of ingenuity that can be put into obtaining what is needed, with appropriate environmental safeguards, of course.

For something like Lithium from the ocean ; -

The concentration is 0.2 grams of Lithium per tonne of seawater. There are E18 tonnes of sea water, meaning an essentially unlimited quantity of Lithium. To extract a tonne of Lithium ( assuming 100% efficiency) requires 5000 tonnes of seawater to be processed. This amount of seawater a volume of seawater roughly 17 metres by 17 metres by 17 metres. For 1000 tonnes of Lithium, the amount becomes a cube of 170m by 170m by 170m. While large scale exploitation would involve much more volume than this, it too would literally be a tiny drop in the ocean, and should do little in the way of harm to ecology.

Even if efficiency is only 10% and 10,000 tonnes of Lithium are made each year, the amount of seawater required to be processed would be only 500 parts per trillion per year. Hardly a big impact on marine ecology.

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I merely pointed out that these materials are not in limited supply. The only limiting factor is the degree of ingenuity that can be put into obtaining what is needed

this is Clearly untrue, and could ONLY be made to be true if the Earths mass where infinite, and we know that it isnt.

there is a Finite amount of Every element in (and on) the Earth.

and where we have taken every atom of material X and given it an application, one can effectively say "we have run out" or "used it all up", I think you would agree with this yes?

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YT

You can argue that everything is finite, and you would be correct. However, everything is also relative. And relative to what humanity has so far extracted, the resource is still enormous. At least for common elements like copper and lead, though as Sayonara pointed out, it may be more difficult for rarer products like Platinum, Tellurium, Iridium etc.

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Screwing up the planet by destructive mining techniques will be seen as a quaint anacrhonism in a century or two when we are efficiently mining asteroids.

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YT

You can argue that everything is finite, and you would be correct. However, everything is also relative. And relative to what humanity has so far extracted, the resource is still enormous. At least for common elements like copper and lead, though as Sayonara pointed out, it may be more difficult for rarer products like Platinum, Tellurium, Iridium etc.

its enormous NOW. in the FUTURE it won't be.

much like trees on easter island. i'm sure the natives thought they were inexhaustable but then they had used them all up and the population crashed in a not so nice fashion.

just because we are incapable of consuming all the resources available in a human lifetime doesn't mean we should treat them as infinite.

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YT

You can argue that everything is finite

well yes, I Could, but I wasnt.

the point being is that there is a Limit, a Physical limit on what can be supplied.

there is however no such limit on Demand, therein lies the problem

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You may be reading into my earlier posts some things I did not mean to say. If I calculate a total of (say) a trillion tonnes of an element in the Earth's crust, I am not suggesting that anyone will mine the entire Earth's crust to get that trillion tonnes. The number is there to give an upper limit to the amount potentially available.

So why do you keep denying that humankind can use up all the available mass of a given element, if there is an "upper limit"? Isn't that pretty much what I have been talking about: the maximum potentially available mass of an element?

It's perfectly conceivable that we could use a trillion tonnes of Usefullium. A big number does not mean a number which cannot be reached.

Of course no one is going to mine the entire crust. If the number is a trillion tonnes, then there may be a total of one part in 100,000 mined over the next 10,000 years. Definitely not the same as total exploitation. Even that is 10 million tonnes, which is hardly inconsiderable.

"Inconsiderable" is relative, to borrow your own thinking from the end of that post. 10 million tonnes is not that much when shared among export countries in one year, and you are talking about it over 10,000 years as if it is a lot. That's 1000 tonnes a year, if you assume constant rate (which is very simplistic but let's not get too clever about this).

Let's take copper as an example, seeing as it's a recurring theme in this thread, and we know it's abundant so it should robustly stand up to being mined:

In 1900, we were producing half a million tonnes a year. This had risen to 15 million tonnes per year by the turn of the millenium. If you look at the current methods, we stand to run out of accessible copper in 20-60 years, depending on growth in the range 2% to 0.

Even if efficiency is only 10% and 10,000 tonnes of Lithium are made each year, the amount of seawater required to be processed would be only 500 parts per trillion per year. Hardly a big impact on marine ecology.

Do you know which marine organisms need the lithium? Because if you don't, then you can't know how changes in the concentration will affect marine ecology.

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We used to apply the same reasoning in reverse, too. The lakes and oceans are so big, that we'll never notice the effect of dumping waste in them, since the ratio of what is dumped to the size of the reservoir is infinitesimally small — it was assumed that the water reservoir was "essentially infinite."

Finite is finite. Treating it as infinite is an approximation, and all approximations fail at some point.

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Another calculation.

500 trillion tonnes of copper in the crust. Sayonara said 15 million tonnes mined per year.

If only one part per 100,000 is available to exploitation, that is a total of 5 billion tonnes. At 15 million tonnes per year, that is a supply lasting well over 300 years.

I accept that finite means finite. However, the supply of the common elements, assuming a reasonable degree of technological development in extraction methods, should last us well into the future.

Beyond 300 years, I am not prepared to predict what the world will be like or what our descendents will need in the way of resources.

I believe, however, that for most resources, that humanity will cope.

Perhaps in 300 years, there will be recycling technology of close to 100% efficiency? Perhaps we will be pumping magma from beneath the Earth's crust and removing minerals and energy, before pumping it back? Perhaps we will be mining the asteroids??? Perhaps we will have developed a 'perfect' means of extracting everything we require from seawater???

Any predictions beyond 300 years will be science fiction, and in that field almost anything goes.

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But you can't have your cake and eat it. In 300 years time, if all the accessible copper has been mined, that means there is a limit to what we can do with the copper that we have (regardless of recycling).

And this applies to all elements, whether they are more abundant than copper, or scarce like platinum.

I think we have exhausted this discussion to the point where it isn't helping the thread at all. I originally brought up the point as a caveat that humanity's dispersal throughout the galaxy might not be the simple escapade that we might like it to be. However like you Lance I don't think that it will necessarily prohibit that dispersal, so let's move on!

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• 1 month later...

This is very interesting. I really think this provoked my mind, and most of theese will proboably be too sci-fi to be possible. If the next evolutionary thing were to use the oxygen in CO2.. we may have a horrid future.

Now:

The human has opposable thumbs and high intelligence. It is the dominant species of planet Earth.

Three thousand years in the future:

The brain will attempt to do something good, and it will, with global warming, likely do this:

Humans will be able to filter the oxygen out of CO2 so they will only expel carbon.

Though this is an advance, plant life would diminish.

Six thousand years in the future:

Mushrooms are the only plant life. Mushrooms will evolve to expand and eat humans around it, due to less life. Humans are using all energy in CO2 to get as much as possible.

Seven billion years into the future:

Humans have no use for water or CO2. They have a natural generator like an electric eel that keeps the brain running. We are tall and slim so more wind can hit us when we are hot, because the sun is closing in on the earth.

Ten billion years into the future:

Cosmology is gone because the sun is moving the earth due to its closeness. Halfway to eleven billion, the sun dies. We are evolved to survive heat and we have nothing to do but freeze as the sun has moved us to a distant corner of the universe where no heat is available. It is possible that small groups will survive for awhile with primitive fires.

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imaginer, life used to use CO2 for its oxygen source infact, oxygen used to be the waste gas of life. they even expelled so much of it they suffocated themselves leaving those that could adapt to use oxygen.

humans will not evolve to breathe CO2 in three thousand years. that is a major major shift. i don't think even 3 million would do it. plus, there isn't enough CO2 in the atmosphere for us to be able to breathe it.

i doubt plant life will diminish, they can breathe aerobically and can get by on small amounts of CO2

there isn't a whole lot of energy in CO2. read, none.

Humans have no use for water or CO2. They have a natural generator like an electric eel that keeps the brain running. We are tall and slim so more wind can hit us when we are hot, because the sun is closing in on the earth.

where do we get our energy from then? there needs to be some reducer and oxidiser. and you know that electric eels eat right?

Cosmology is gone because the sun is moving the earth due to its closeness. Halfway to eleven billion, the sun dies. We are evolved to survive heat and we have nothing to do but freeze as the sun has moved us to a distant corner of the universe where no heat is available. It is possible that small groups will survive for awhile with primitive fires.

sun blows up in our face in 5 billion years.

also, this would not cause cosmology to disappear.

and the sun blowing up will not throw the earth into the universe.

colonies on other star systems will likely survive though.

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• 3 weeks later...

Probably something more effective, like wings and armour.

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and that would be more effective how?

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Yes, that's all well and good when you are talking about copper, but if you consider other materials vital to complex technologies, such as platinum, iridium, osmium, and Greenockite, my point stands. I'm pretty sure I could go on with an extensive list of things we might like a great deal more of should we wish to expand beyond Earth.

I notice you chose to talk about copper, which is commonly known to be abundant, but ignored lead. With the current rate of increase in utilisation, lead production (which includes mining and recycling) will become insufficient in about 40-45 years. But perhaps when we want to send all those ships to other stars we will be able to collect up all the bullets and melt them down for the cause.

Exploiting the resources of space ie the asteroids would give us an almost unlimited amount of resources. Yes they can be brought to the Earth easily, it's taking back into space that is difficult.

So why do you keep denying that humankind can use up all the available mass of a given element, if there is an "upper limit"? Isn't that pretty much what I have been talking about: the maximum potentially available mass of an element?

It's perfectly conceivable that we could use a trillion tonnes of Usefullium. A big number does not mean a number which cannot be reached.

"Inconsiderable" is relative, to borrow your own thinking from the end of that post. 10 million tonnes is not that much when shared among export countries in one year, and you are talking about it over 10,000 years as if it is a lot. That's 1000 tonnes a year, if you assume constant rate (which is very simplistic but let's not get too clever about this).

Let's take copper as an example, seeing as it's a recurring theme in this thread, and we know it's abundant so it should robustly stand up to being mined:

In 1900, we were producing half a million tonnes a year. This had risen to 15 million tonnes per year by the turn of the millenium. If you look at the current methods, we stand to run out of accessible copper in 20-60 years, depending on growth in the range 2% to 0.

Do you know which marine organisms need the lithium? Because if you don't, then you can't know how changes in the concentration will affect marine ecology.

Why is everyone assuming the Earth is our only source of raw materials? The solar system is at our disposal, the asteroids contain huge amounts of minerals most of which are reasonably easy to extract and even bring to the earth. Yes if we confine our efforts to the earth there will come a day when many elements will be too difficult to extract but way before we get to that point we should be exploiting the resources of the entire solar system.

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A point of interest in relation to scarce metals :

I read recently an analysis of iron rich meteorites. Apparently they are also extremely rich (by Earth standards) in Platinum, Iridium and other precious metals. This suggests that those scarce materials are abundant off the Earth. What this means to a future society is a possible source of speculation.

It may also be worth speculating about the distribution of heavier elements on Earth. It appears, from analysis of rock that has come from the Earth's mantle, that heavier elements are more abundant deeper down. Lighter elements such as Aluminium are very abundant in the Earth's crust, but deeper down we get more of the rarer and heavier atoms. Could a future technology tap this resource? Worth thinking about.

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Exploiting the resources of space ie the asteroids would give us an almost unlimited amount of resources. Yes they can be brought to the Earth easily, it's taking back into space that is difficult.

Why is everyone assuming the Earth is our only source of raw materials? The solar system is at our disposal, the asteroids contain huge amounts of minerals most of which are reasonably easy to extract and even bring to the earth. Yes if we confine our efforts to the earth there will come a day when many elements will be too difficult to extract but way before we get to that point we should be exploiting the resources of the entire solar system.

Don't you think this is a sort of "god of the gaps" argument?

What you are saying is this:

1) Earth has limits on the useful extractable volumes of resources required for space expansion,

2) Something something something mumble cough cough,

3) Hey presto, a mining and recovery infrastructure throughout the solar system (or at least the interesting bits) which plugs those resources gaps.

While I don't doubt for a second that there will be abundant supplies of various elements and minerals throughout the solar system that will be very useful to us, we can't just make the assumption that they will ultimately be harvested.

Consider what I was saying earlier: as time goes by, demand for the valuable materials with unique chemical properties goes up. Supplies go down. There is the very realistic possibility of crucial resources become so scarce that their paucity puts a block on the very technology we would need to mine them off Earth. This is what I meant by resources potentially placing a limit on space expansion, and that's even if we assume that everything we would need to harvest to keep expanding is actually where you expect to find it.

In a way it's a kind of race: can we put the necessary infrastructures in place before the critical materials become too scarce, or develop new technologies which rely on relatively more abdundant alternatives?

A point of interest in relation to scarce metals :

I read recently an analysis of iron rich meteorites. Apparently they are also extremely rich (by Earth standards) in Platinum, Iridium and other precious metals. This suggests that those scarce materials are abundant off the Earth. What this means to a future society is a possible source of speculation.

I didn't think you were a fan of speculation in these threads, but regardless I tend to agree that confirmation of rich off-planet sources of those elements is an intriguing bit of news which deserves an optimistic response. There is of course the issue of whether or not we can mine or otherwise extract the materials we are interested in, but at least for now we know they are there.

It may also be worth speculating about the distribution of heavier elements on Earth. It appears, from analysis of rock that has come from the Earth's mantle, that heavier elements are more abundant deeper down. Lighter elements such as Aluminium are very abundant in the Earth's crust, but deeper down we get more of the rarer and heavier atoms. Could a future technology tap this resource? Worth thinking about.

Quite possibly. If there is one thing we have learned from the history of expansionist material capitalist societies, it's that someone will at least try.

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Don't you think this is a sort of "god of the gaps" argument?

What you are saying is this:

1) Earth has limits on the useful extractable volumes of resources required for space expansion,

2) Something something something mumble cough cough,

3) Hey presto, a mining and recovery infrastructure throughout the solar system (or at least the interesting bits) which plugs those resources gaps.

Not at all, you are trying to obfuscate the situation. How long do you think it will take to start a significant process of exploitation of Space resources? If we really to this problem to heart it could be in decades. How long before we are unable to really mine necessary materials on the Earth? Nuclear powered space craft like the proposed "Nuclear Light bulb rocket" could speed up the exploitation of space resources considerably but even if we don't use nuclear power in that way the resources of space will not be thousands of years away or even hundreds of years. Decades at worst and maybe just a few years at best depending on how much of our resources we commit to the challenge.

While I don't doubt for a second that there will be abundant supplies of various elements and minerals throughout the solar system that will be very useful to us, we can't just make the assumption that they will ultimately be harvested.

Why not? Are the alien over lords going to come and stop us? There are no unsurmountable problems to keep us from exploiting these resources.

Consider what I was saying earlier: as time goes by, demand for the valuable materials with unique chemical properties goes up. Supplies go down. There is the very realistic possibility of crucial resources become so scarce that their paucity puts a block on the very technology we would need to mine them off Earth. This is what I meant by resources potentially placing a limit on space expansion, and that's even if we assume that everything we would need to harvest to keep expanding is actually where you expect to find it.

Only if we ***** foot around for a hundred years or so before we begin to exploit these space resources. Much of the infrastructure of mining space resources will be made in space from those very resources. It's not like we will have to continually mine the earth to go into space to get the stuff we are mining on the earth. Once we establish the beginning of the operations they can become self sustaining and use those very resources to build on. .

In a way it's a kind of race: can we put the necessary infrastructures in place before the critical materials become too scarce, or develop new technologies which rely on relatively more abdundant alternatives?

No, you are not thinking ahead, it will not be necessary to put a complete infrastructure in space. The infrastructure can be built in space from native materials. As this grows more and more can be bled off to the Earth or used to build self contained orbiting colonies in space. We will not have build an entire infrastructure in space from materials mined on the earth to mine these resources

I didn't think you were a fan of speculation in these threads, but regardless I tend to agree that confirmation of rich off-planet sources of those elements is an intriguing bit of news which deserves an optimistic response. There is of course the issue of whether or not we can mine or otherwise extract the materials we are interested in, but at least for now we know they are there.

There are already many proposals for mining in space, we need to get there to test out some of the more obvious ones. As i said there is no reason to think any unsurmountable engineering problems exist that will prevent us from mining the resources in space.

Quite possibly. If there is one thing we have learned from the history of expansionist material capitalist societies, it's that someone will at least try.

No someone will succeed, all we have to is have the will to try and not get bogged down in negative thinking.

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